The state government on Monday informed the Bombay High Court that till June 13, 1,681 swab tests for Covid-19 had been conducted across prisons in Maharashtra, with 269 prisoners and 73 jail staffers testing positive. Of the total infected, 115 inmates and 51 staffers members have recovered.
Moreover, 17,695 screenings for temperature, oxygen level and pulse had been conducted across prisons.
The court was hearing a compliance report filed by Additional Director General of Police and Inspector General (Prisons) Sunil Ramanand as a response to pleas raising concerns over several inmates and jail staffers testing positive.
The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) — through senior counsel Mihir Desai and advocates Isha Khandelwal and Kritika Agarwal — and another petitioner Archana Rupawate had moved court in this regard.
On June 12, a division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice S S Shinde had asked the state prison department to file a response on whether guidelines of the Indian Council of Medical Research for testing asymptomatic and high-risk contacts of positive patients were being followed while also providing details of the standard operating procedure being followed for Covid-19 testing in prisons.
The compliance report included information regarding 11 major prisons in the state. The state also submitted that mass swab testing of asymptomatic inmates may not be undertaken until it is assured that quarantine facility would be provided by municipal commissioners or district collectors, as many of the prisons are overcrowded.
While 545 swab tests were conducted at Arthur Road jail and 158 inmates tested positive, 377 tests were conducted at Solapur District prison, with 62 inmates testing positive. The department added that three prisoners – one each in Yerawada, Taloja and Dhule jails – were found Covid-19 positive after they died. Moreover, an undertrial at Taloja jail who died by suicide on May 27 tested positive later.
The bench will hear the case next on Tuesday.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines